Xibalba (pronounced: Shee-bal-ba) is the name the K’iche Maya gave to their underworld and means “place of fear or fright“.
Those who entered Xibalba put their wits to the test against the cruel gods, but very few survived. The Maya believed freshwater sinkholes, or cenote, were the sacred portals to Xibalba. This underwater labyrinth of rivers, in the Yucatan peninsula, was a previously hidden domain.
Only in recent history have adventurers risked their lives to explore the secret passages and caves littered with human remains and concealed temples to reveal a glimpse of the mysteries of the Maya underworld.
This is where we will take you at night...
About 10 years ago a group of Mayan Indians were hunting in the jungle around the Tulum area. After a little while, hunters discovered that one of them disappeared...
Searching for many hours, the friends decided to abandon the search and come back home in hopes that their buddy simply went on his own somewhere. Their friend didn’t come back the next day…
Indian that disappeared fell through the hole in the ground. The Yucatan has a lot of these kinds of holes. The native name was Mano. He woke up with a terrible headache in the complete darkness. Everywhere around him he heard sounds of water drops.
Growing up in a little Mayan village in the jungle, from an early age, Mano knew about “Xibalba” – a mythical place where people go when they die. There is no way out of this place of the world of the death, except for the road that goes through thousands of years of fear and pain, testing your internal being.
Mano knew he was in the “Xibalba”. He believed he was dead.
Mano started his journey. He swam through chilling water in the dark labyrinths. Through complete darkness filled only with the sound of dripping water and the occasional screech of flying bats...
His journey lasted for several days till he finally lost his energy. Exhausted, he saw weak rays of light coming through the depths of the water. He dove in and swam towards the light.. When he surfaced he was suddenly surrounded by the jungle.
Mano started crying... he was saved!
Mano went back home to the huge surprise of his friends. He told them the story of his adventure in the Xibalba. A little time later he returned to the jungle where he dissipated and together they found a hole in the ground where he fell thru.
They lowered themselves deep into the ground suing ropes and lighting up their way with fire torches. When Indians got to the bottom, they found a place from another world and no words could describe the beauty surrounding them.
Indians called it “Sac Actun”, which in Mayan language means: “White Cave”.
Sometime after, Mano, with his family, rented the territory from the government and brought in electric generators and installed underground lights. They opened it up for us a little while ago.
Mano told me his story many years after the incident. He still lives with his family near by and allows us to swim here at night so others can experience the rush of adrenaline that he believes saved his life.
Among our first clients were National Geographic, with whom we shot an episode about this beautiful and magical underground world.
This is a full scale night time adventure that you will remember for the rest of your lifetime. For many this is the time ZERO - when life restarts again. Don't be suprised if some of you will cry because of the beauty surrounding us.
We will pick you up after sundown at your hotel and will drive deep into the Yucatan jungle. There we will be greeted by the Mayan guardians, who will allow us to enter.
We will explore the jungle surrounding us. Here we will look for wild orchids growing on the trees. Sometimes we see giant scorpions, tarantulas, snakes, foxes and colorful birds sleeping in the trees.
Sometimes jaguars come out of the jungle to greet us. They never attack, they are
simply curious about us. Locals at Mayan villages surrounding this place from early time treated jaguars as gods and always feed them. Jaguars got used to people. There is not one jaguar attack yet documented.
We will dress in our wet-suits, whoever wants will be given life-vests, take our snorkels and masks, underwater flashlights and will follow our guide to the staircase leading deep inside underground.
Once everyone successfully gets down the stairs we will turn on the light.
This is a very special moment when everyone will be shocked by the beauty surrounding us.
After short safety instruction, we will get down to the water and submerge ourselves in the water.
Following our guides we will slowly swim in crystal clear mineral water in the maze of labyrinths of sparkling stalactites and stalagmites. Group will have to stay as close as possible, as there is good potential to be lost in the labyrinth. There is almost no water stream, so it's pretty safe for almost any ages.
At spring at some areas of the underground river a lot of light-bugs are coming over. The scene is pure magic, when we see thousands of little flying sparkling stars surrounding us.
We will follow our guides for about 1 hour and will get out of the river at the completely different place deep in the jungle.
At this point we will return thru the night jungle back following small sandy patch to the starting point to find temazcal (Indian spa) and fire prepared for us.
Temazcal is a thousands years old ritual, but here we just use this place it to rest and warm up after trip in the river. Here we will some refreshing drinks and have a moment to reflect and collect our thoughts... A bit later we will take you back to your hotels.
Pick up after sundown at 8 or 10pm.
Our trips usually lasts about 3-4 hours, total time in the water about 1-1.5hrs.
There are 3 exits, about 20 min apart.
Water temperature is about 24 degrees celsius.
We have masks, snorkels, wetsuits and life jackets for you.
Transfer from your hotel
Refreshments (water and soda drinks)
Visit to shamans village in the midle of the jungle
Possible Jaguar sightings
Underground river system entrance with private guide
Life jackets, wetsuits, masks and snorkels